The World's Fish Are Disappearing

On Monday, June 20 the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) released a brief report in which it warned that ocean stressors threaten an unprecedentedly high-level of marine extinction. The report came out of a three-day conference co-sponsored by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and was attended by representatives from 18 organizations representing 6 countries. The report notes that the main stressors include climate change, overexploitation, pollution, and habitat loss.

According to the findings, commercial fish stocks and populations of by-catch species are down 90 percent as a result of overfishing. The report emphasizes the role of human actions in the rapidly growing threat of extinction for marine species. The delegates call for an immediate cut in carbon emissions, the closing of unsustainable fisheries, and the end of overfishing.

An article from the Seattle Post Intelligencer notes the shock the report has produced even among scientists.

"The findings are shocking," said IPSO's Scientific Director Alex Rogers. "As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the ocean the implications became far worse than we had individually realized."

In an opinion piece from the Independent, Sylvia Earle focuses on the frightening impact of the report's findings on our everyday life.

"The concern is not loss of fish for people to eat. Rather, the greatest concern about destructive fishing activities of the past century, especially the past several decades, is the dismemberment of the fine-tuned ocean ecosystems that are, in effect, our life-support system."

The World Resources Institute spells out what is needed to reverse this devastating trend.

"On a global level, however, the threats from climate change looms large — more political will is needed along with more action by governments to prevent the worst possible forecasts of the State of Oceans Report. It is up to people, policymakers, and international leaders to make decisions today to ensure that the truly frightening predictions of mass extinction of sea life do not come to pass."

Hayden Shaugnessy of Forbes agrees that marine change is necessary, but wonders if this report will spur people into action.

"Is it likely that change around the coastline would be easier if only it wasn't presented as another doomsday? If instead of warning us about the death of the oceans, Dr Rogers set out a programme for what could be done for our beaches and rivers, a plan of action that could involve us in individual acts of innovation and change? What could I do differently that I might enjoy doing?"

Do you think that fish will disappear from our oceans? If so, what do you think will happen? Keep the conversation going in the comments.